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Old 03-28-2016, 06:57 PM
 
Location: Florida
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50 states, 51 different sets of rules. You need local advice.
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Old 03-28-2016, 08:14 PM
 
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Originally Posted by willow wind View Post
If you're a Veteran, yes, you are entitled to burial at a National cemetery but the procedure is a whole lot more involved than that and may include lots of extra costs to have it done.

https://www.funerals.org/frequently-...urial-benefits

Seriously everyone, as this topic of wills, burials comes up frequently please have your wishes and finances organized well beforehand.

As for someone's wishes written on a piece of paper in a file cabinet, that's totally he said/she said. Without witnesses and notarizing, not likely a court would recognize it.

If you don't have a lot of possessions, property or money for attorneys, there are plenty of sample wills online. Just print one, fill it out. Take it with you to places that have notaries on hand ---- a bank, town or city hall, a local senior center, etc. They will borrow a person or two to be a witness and notarize it.




We found a notary on Craig's List. She came to our home. I forget what she charged, but it was quite reasonable.

Last edited by MaryleeII; 03-28-2016 at 08:56 PM..
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Old 03-28-2016, 08:28 PM
 
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We just used Legal Zoom to make our will. I forget the cost, but quite reasonable, around $200. You just put in your information, they type it up for you, then we got two friends to witness it and found a notary on Craig's List. Of course, our will is quite simple and we no longer have minor, dependent children.


I wrote a separate letter of instruction stored along with the will directing how I want my "treasures" divided up. Stuff such as jewelry, china, etc that really isn't worth a whole lot except for sentimental value. My cookie jar collection, Christmas collectibles, etc.


I also made provisions for my pets. I appointed my son as "guardian of the pets" whatever we have at the time, along with a small life insurance policy ($1,000), which designates him as the beneficiary (you can't leave money to animals), along with the instructions he use the money for their care. There's no legal requirement he do so, but he knows my wishes and would have the means to do so.


Depending on the status of your finances at the time of death, your will might not even need to be probated. When my father died, my mother owned everything joint, anyways. When my mother died, I was a joint owner on all her accounts. Of course, there has to be a great deal of trust to make an adult child joint on your accounts. I would NEVER put either of my children on any of my accounts, except a POD = payable on death. Joint ownership, POD, and life insurance bypasses probate court, anyways.

Last edited by MaryleeII; 03-28-2016 at 08:57 PM..
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Old 03-28-2016, 10:11 PM
 
9,200 posts, read 9,280,929 times
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Originally Posted by Zelpha View Post
Was talking with a friend last night and he mentioned his extended family has been quarreling over his father's estate since he unexpectedly died two years ago without leaving any will or directives whatsoever.

This got me wondering, Hypothetically, What if someone dies without a legal notarized will, but has written directives on paper kept in a file, could that be considered better than leaving no directive at all, and would the written directives be legally honored? (Assuming of course that the informal directives weren't plagiarized by an acquaintance of the deceased. Yes I realize that's why legal wills are strongly advised.)

Keeping it simple, I for one don't own anything of value whatsoever, so I told my friend that if he ever happens to be the only one close to me when I die, just donate my stuff to Goodwill and use my military DD-214 to get me a free burial/cremation/whatever.

Can informal directives be honored? Or does everyone need a will?

I suppose people with any estate and valuable items would be wise to update a legal will every year or so. But if they weren't prepared and died young & unexpectedly, but had verbally told a friend their directives or informally wrote it on paper, would it be better than nothing? Especially if the directives were realistic, and not favoring the messenger over anyone else?
State laws vary with respect to Wills. In order to be a valid holographic Will a document must meet certain requirements. If the requirements are not strictly adhered too, the Will could be thrown out by a court during probate. If no Will is in existence than property passes according to the rules of intestate succession. In most places, this will mean your spouse inherits everything. If your spouse predeceases you, under intestate succession rules, your children inherit in equal shares. If one of your children predeceases you, that child's wife and children take their share of your estate.

Most lawyers charge very modestly for preparing a Will and I have always shaken my head at people.who insist on trying to write their own Will or who truly believe that Legal Zoom can do a better job of writing Will for them no matter which of the 50 states they happen to live in (the rules are a little different in virtually every state). Be that as it may, I have learned that when it comes to preparing Wills and Trusts that people are going to do what they want to do, rather than what is logical or best for them. So, if you are absolutely determined to beat a lawyer out of $400 to prepare a personalized Will than go ahead and do so. Proceed at your own risk though. The document you hand write or prepare on Legal Zoom may not meet all the requirements necessary to be a valid Will and it may not do what you intend it to do.
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Old 03-28-2016, 10:32 PM
 
9,686 posts, read 15,874,542 times
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Originally Posted by markg91359 View Post
State laws vary with respect to Wills. In order to be a valid holographic Will a document must meet certain requirements. If the requirements are not strictly adhered too, the Will could be thrown out by a court during probate. If no Will is in existence than property passes according to the rules of intestate succession. In most places, this will mean your spouse inherits everything. If your spouse predeceases you, under intestate succession rules, your children inherit in equal shares. If one of your children predeceases you, that child's wife and children take their share of your estate.

Most lawyers charge very modestly for preparing a Will and I have always shaken my head at people.who insist on trying to write their own Will or who truly believe that Legal Zoom can do a better job of writing Will for them no matter which of the 50 states they happen to live in (the rules are a little different in virtually every state). Be that as it may, I have learned that when it comes to preparing Wills and Trusts that people are going to do what they want to do, rather than what is logical or best for them. So, if you are absolutely determined to beat a lawyer out of $400 to prepare a personalized Will than go ahead and do so. Proceed at your own risk though. The document you hand write or prepare on Legal Zoom may not meet all the requirements necessary to be a valid Will and it may not do what you intend it to do.


What if you can't afford the "modest fee" lawyers charge? We didn't use LegalZoom to "beat a lawyer out of $400". My dh had been diagnosed with cancer. Even with medical insurance, we still owe MD Anderson thousands. We simply didn't have money for "extras" such as a will, when we leave a very small estate, anyways. In Texas, if a parent of a minor child dies intestate, the homestead does NOT go automatically to the surviving spouse. In the absence of a will, the homestead goes to the minor child(ren), held in trust by their guardian. Usually that guardian is the remaining parent, however, that parent cannot sell the house even if its in the best interests of the children and parent. The law was written to keep a surviving spouse from selling the homestead and, essentially, running off from the children. However, many a surviving spouse has been stuck with a home they can no longer afford.


BTW, the lawyers I contacted wanted about $2000+ for a will. MD Anderson wanted $800 up front just to see my dh for a consultation, then, travel costs, copays, etc---we did what was best for all concerned. BTW, DH is cancer-free...money well-spent!
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Old 03-29-2016, 02:12 AM
 
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folks don't realize just how entangled and complex this stuff can be .

some of the issues those who use canned documents in our state ,ny run in to are :

Preparing and executing a valid health care proxy provides a good illustration. The health care proxy is a document that allows an individual to appoint an agent to make health care decisions in case he/she becomes incapacitated.

The main purpose of the health care proxy is to appoint an agent. There is a presumption that the agent knows the principal’s wishes. Nonetheless, according to New York State case law, if a principal’s wishes regarding the withholding of artificial nutrition and hydration are not articulated, an agent will not be able to make such decision. Based on this case law, it is imperative for the principal to set forth his/her wishes regarding the administering of artificial nutrition and hydration either in the actual health care proxy or in a separate living will. Failure to do this can result in unforeseen consequences – which is exactly what the principal was trying to avoid in the first place. Secondly, many individuals erroneously believe that they can appoint more than one agent at a time on a health care proxy. This would make the document faulty because only one agent at a time can make medical decisions. A person drafting a health care proxy can add language to avoid insulting other family members, but again- this requires the help of someone with experience. Finally, the document must be witnessed by two individuals in order for it to be validly recognized. A person should not have his agent, spouse or child be a witness to the signing.

there are a lot more problems in the area of powers of attorney. The main thrust of a power of attorney is to appoint an agent to act on an individual’s behalf with respect to financial matters in case such individual becomes incapacitated. Many people innocently refer to this document as one that is “simple” to prepare. This could not be further from the truth. Firstly, New York State passed legislation effective September 2009 in an attempt to create a statutory form that would be uniformly accepted. This legislation was the result of tremendous abuse that was found in this particular area, with some appointed agents taking advantage of the disabled and elderly.

The new power of attorney law results in a much lengthier document, and significantly restricts the actual power given to the agent over financial matters. If transfers are to be made on behalf of the principal, a separate gift rider must be executed. The gift rider must specifically articulate the agent’s power to make gifts to himself/herself or to third parties. Further, any additional powers beyond those enumerated in the statute, must be added to a modification section. Finally, while the law mandates banks, brokerage houses and other financial institutions to recognize the power of attorney, the form utilized must be statutory. Accordingly, if someone decides to cut corners and download a form from the internet, this may result in a tremendous disservice because if the form is not statutory, it does not have to be legally recognized. The power of attorney is an extremely important tool for estate and elder law practitioner. If the principal incorrectly drafts and/or executes this form, his/her ultimate plans regarding Medicaid eligibility or gifting to loved ones could be completely stymied.

while folks think they have nothing to probate they can be quite wrong .

an accident , a wrongful death settlement , etc can all bring money in to an estate unexpectedly and have to go through probate ..

Through the probate process, the will is reviewed and the court checks to make sure the will was drafted and executed properly. The number of witnesses, the affidavit they sign and the way the will is fastened are some examples of what the court reviews. Any mistakes, such as the removal of a staple or an ambiguous bequest can result in unnecessary delays, costly legal fees, and at worse, an inability to complete the probate process.

as we found out , in probate court what your intentions are do not count . your intentions are either correctly and legally stated or they are not . the court can't add or correct things .

Last edited by mathjak107; 03-29-2016 at 03:09 AM..
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Old 03-29-2016, 03:14 AM
 
4,787 posts, read 9,308,292 times
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Oh wow, MaryLee- all those places I suggested to notarize do it for free in my town.

X2 on what Mathjak said. People just do not realize how complicated this stuff can be. Preparing these documents is really not the time to cut corners or to hide head in sand and hope they are not needed. Just trying to understand the legalese can make your head explode and yes the costs can be very high. Personally I think it's just something you prepare for far ahead of time and don't wait until you need them.
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Old 03-29-2016, 03:23 AM
 
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if anyone is curious what went wrong in our case where grandpa specifically stated these grandkids get nothing and next thing you know as clearly as the documents stated they ended up as heirs i will tell you briefly .

my wife is a widow . her husband has 2 children the mother took out of state and estranged themselves from the family .

when grandpa did their wills and trusts he specifically ruled them out as he had no contact at all with them .

so grandpa's will and trust provided for everything to go his wife and then to my wifes husband and his brother .

so granpa dies and everything goes to grandma .

well as luck had it my wife's husband died before his mom . once mom died the estate went to probate and the court said , stop the presses . there are no provisions here for what happens if the son dies before his mom .

since this is what happened the court said while the intentions are clear they can't add the missing sentance so they said lets see my wifes husbands will .

well his will called for treating all his children equally .

the court said we have a problem here . grandpa's documents rule out the grandkids by name but that document has a defect . if we use their fathers will instead their fathers will says all kids are to be treated equally .

so the court notified the estranged grandkids about the issue , they got lawyers and next thing you know grandpa's intentions went right down the sewer as the kids had a legal claim .

it turns out granpa's paper work was done not by an experienced estate attorney but by a jack of all trades master of none friend of the family attorney .

Last edited by mathjak107; 03-29-2016 at 04:14 AM..
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Old 03-29-2016, 10:11 AM
 
Location: Lakewood OH
21,697 posts, read 23,676,966 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mathjak107 View Post
quite a few states states will not accept a holographic will at all .

States That Do Not Allow Holographic Wills
Other states do not accept holographic wills in any form, even as a foreign will or for active military members. These states are Alabama, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Missouri, New Hampshire, Ohio, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont and Wisconsin.


as far as the intent ? that means little in probate court . we had an issue first hand where a trust and will ruled out some estranged grand children by name .

well it turns out the probate court found a line missing in the trust pertaining to predeceasing which is what happened in this case .

the judge told us the intent is clear , that these kids were to get nothing . but he cannot go back in to history and add missing verbiage or fix what is wrong . the trust and will have a defect and as such cannot be accept by the court .

the court notified the children there was a defect in their grand fathers will and trust , they got attorneys and the rest is history .

even though they were mentioned by name to not get a penny they ended up with a share and the intent could not have been any clearer .

so the court notified the estranged grandkids about the issue , they got lawyers and next thing you know grandpa's intentions went right down the sewer as the kids had a legal claim .

it turns out granpa's paper work was done not by an experienced estate attorney but by a jack of all trades master of none friend of the family attorney .

I worked in Oregon's Probate Court and filed Holographed Wills from time to time. They considered them when there were no other wills present or when there were questionable items contested on more acceptable forms of wills. So Sometimes they can be accepted even though the State laws officially prohibit them. As I said, intent of the diseased takes priority when there is nothing else to show his or her wishes.

As far as obtaining an attorney. In some situations it is wise in some it is not necessary. Each situation is different. The Probate Court is a good place to go to obtain information regarding the laws of the person's State. I mentioned the Internet for both forms and laws but not as a place for personal legal advice.

Regarding your story, it would appear that the attorney hired to do grandpa's paperwork didn't work out very well. I saw this same thing happen quite a few times in Probate Court. It isn't just that the Testator's intent was denied, but rather the incompetent attorney did not word that intent correctly in the Will which should have included exclusions for any and all other bequests pertaining to the predeceasing of any of the relatives of the grandfather. Simple as that.

So moral of the story is, if you do feel you need an Estate attorney, get a smart one who knows Estate Law.
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Old 03-29-2016, 10:16 AM
 
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i would never use a holographic well , ever . why do something like that from the get go . at the least get an approved one off the internet and keep your fingers crossed .
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